A Blessing

A couple of nights ago, I read a blog post on the elegance of bad poetry.* And it reminded me of an awful wonderful poem written by our friend, Pat Anton. Pat and Chris Anton were the master and mistress of ceremonies at our wedding. When Rick came to Grand Rapids from Lafayette, Indiana, to attend electronics school, he had nothing to his name. The Antons, along with many other people from Bethany Bible Church took him in, and were family to him. He became a Christian at Bethany.

At our wedding reception, Chris Anton read Pat’s poem to everyone:

It’s a Special Day, You’ll all agree
One we thought we’d never see.

The day that Rick would beam and glow
To be the hit of this particular show.

We all remember, if we take the time
When Rick appeared without a dime.

He became something special to everyone
We shared his laughter, his trials and fun.

We tried to help him in every way
Watching him grow, day by day.

And grow he did in his spiritual life
But he was always looking for a wife.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

I want to do something with my life
Pastor suggested Word of Life.

Pat agreed —Word of Life.
We’ll send you there to find a wife.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

Then on to College and still no direction
So back to Bethany with God’s protection.

Serving the church and serving the Lord.
But so unhappy and so very bored.

What shall I do? He used to say.
And Pat would say in her knowing way.

For every Jack, there’s a Jill.
If one won’t, the other will.

Great, said Rick, but when and where?
Hang on Rick and don’t despair.

But God had someone hid away
And Rick had to wait day after day.

And wait he did until one night
When there appeared a Glorious sight.

Look! He said, the girl for me.
She’s pretty, She’s smart, her name is Cindy.

Here was Someone God Hid away
No more waiting day after day.

It didn’t take long for us to know
Rick had acquired a special glow.

And when we saw it wasn’t one sided,
Everyone got real excited.

The Date was set and finally arrived
Here sits Rick with a wife at his side.

Tonight we salute Rick and his wife.
May God bless them all of their life.

Pat Anton, June 1985.

It was a precious gift to us.

Pat and Chris Anton

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*”The undoubted grandeur of really bad poetry” (http://universitydiary.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/the-undoubted-grandeur-of-really-bad-poetry/)

Think On These Things.

It’s not enough to turn away from cynicism in our lives. We also need to change our thought patterns and then our actions. We need good input so that good output will result.

In put

  • Read -
  1. the Bible – The whole story of redemption. Yes, there is evil recorded in the Bible – for our warning; but there is also the life giving record of God’s love, His provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.
  2. Books – Read books that are worth my time. If the book seems pointless, shallow, or delights in the dark side, stop reading it. Throw it away, if it belongs to me.
  3. Magazines and Newspapers – Read more positive articles. For me, anyway, stay away from critical, sarcastic, mean spirited, deceptive, articles. I already know most of these arguments and points of view.  Why repeat them in my mind?
  4. Blogs – The same as magazines reading.
  • Watch -
  1. Less TV, especially less TV about “reality” and politics. The spin stops here – in my choices. with a positive message. If I must watch the news, watch Fox 17, local news, especially in the morning. More TV like the Cosby’s, Mash, and nature/history. Otherwise, turn it off, or change the channel.
  2. Movies like Lincoln, The Lord of the Rings, The Help, The Holiday, Narnia, It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Fiddler on the Roof. Walk out of the theater if it is a bad movie. Don’t let a little money spent dictate what I fill my mind with.
  3. More theater productions, especially small theaters, college, and high school productions.
  • Listen -
  1. To others. Hear them.
  2. To radio that is encouraging, uplifting.
  3. Turn off radio that is sarcastic, mean spirited, cynical.
  4. Walk away from gossip, if possible.
  5. To music that encourages, builds up, teaches. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
  6. To live music – in concerts and at church.
  7. Myself – singing along, with others or alone

Out put -

  • Speaking -

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-31)

  • Writing
  1. Write about Sowing Mercy, Love, Kindness, Faith, Grace, etc.
  2. Reblog – Examples of sowing #1
  3. Quote the encouraging thoughts of others
  • Action
  1. Do – Knit, quilt, clean, exercise, garden, work.
  2. Give – The fruits of your doing
  3. Pray – for others. Prayer is not just speaking. It is doing.

All of this has been done before, written about, blogged about, and is currently being done. Well, here is one more voice, one more doing, one more change to add to that total. Hearing, seeing, doing combined is the most effective way to learn. By this time next year, I hope that I have learned some of these lessons.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

This is one of my favorite songs. I’ve sung this in church a few times, and it always encourages me. The verses really get to the heart of the matter. Our struggle is spiritual.

Who wrote “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”?
Answer:
  Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905
Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1905

Lyrics
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Chorus:
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Chorus

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Scroll to the bottom of this website to read the history of this song. Our circumstances are not what controls our joy, but our relationship with God.

http://johntroutman.com/lyrics/hiseyeisonthesparrow.html

Here is the tune.


A Journey Away From Cynicism

I was discouraged and disheartened after the election of President Obama in 2012. Not primarily because he was reelected; I did vote for Mitt Romney with reluctance.

But I was weighed down by the prolonged, cynical effort to throw Obama out of office. There are legitimate reasons to oppose his policies and actions as president. Among his many real failures and offenses as president are his handling of Bengazi, the overreach of the NSA, his attempt to get into newsrooms around the country in the guise of a “Study,” his botched launch of the Affordable Care Act. However, many like to roll in the mud of innuendo and lies, with several shots of vitriol to spice it up.

The other side is equally as cynical. During the fall of 2013, I picked up a magazine published by the Union at Meijer Stores. It was filled with scathing lies and vitriol regarding the Republicans. Just as cynical.

A review of the definition of cynicism may be of benefit: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cynical

a :  contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives <those cynical men who say that democracy cannot be honest and efficient — F. D. Roosevelt>

b :  based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest <a cynical ploy to win votes>

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I was weary, soul sick. Dragged down by the constant drum beat of lies, innuendo, and manufactured political rage. So I decided to turn away from it, to make a concerted effort to reduce the habit of cynicism in my own life.

Word Press let me know that December 30, 2012, was my one year anniversary since starting this blog. Have I succeeded in my efforts?

I asked my husband if he thought I was less cynical. His quick answer was “no.” He is the one person on earth who knows me best. Discouraging, a bit.

And yet….

On a daily basis, I am responsible to choose what fills my mind.  Frankly, I don’t want to spend my time on this earth enslaved by the corruption of bitterness, cynicism, slander, rage, and malice. Walking in the spirit of darkness is poison to the soul and the body. It is death.

I choose life.

8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (The Bible, New International Version)

God does not expect us to be perfect, to have arrived. He does expect us to keep at it, however. So if I keep making the choice to turn away from cynicism and increase the qualities God desires in my life, it will keep me from being ineffective and unproductive.

I choose to keep going, to keep sowing.

3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” (II Peter 1:3-9)

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Don’t give up. Never give up.

 

When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees

sowingmercy:

For those of you who are in the thick of it….Mothering is hard work and sometimes no one sees the good you are sowing into the lives of your little ones.

Originally posted on faith&composition:

When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees | Faith and Composition
Somewhere, in a house with walls and a roof very similar to the place you and I call home, there is a mother who wonders if she’s seen.

She wakes to a squalling baby, crying to nurse, or an older child (or two or four) demanding breakfast. She’s barely wiped the sleep from her eyes and has yet to pour a cup of coffee before diapers need to be changed and the dog must be let out.

Her job, nay her calling, begins before her feet even hit the floor. There is no commute to the office, no clocking in for motherhood. There is breakfast to tend, lunch boxes to pack, backpacks to gather. Urine-soaked sheets need stripping; there are dishes in the sink, and a pile of laundry litters the closet floor.

This isn’t a glamorous role, and no one is applauding her this morning.

This is a…

View original 687 more words

Thanks, Mom

Thanks, Mom.

For teaching me the enjoyment of singing. We sang in the car on the way to church, on long trips, and while doing the dishes. We sang in four part harmony old gospel songs and newer songs. Thanks, Mom.

For making the best homemade bread in the world. Once a week, almost every week. When we came home from school, the house would be filled with the glorious aroma of fresh homemade bread. You always had soft butter, jam, and peanut butter set out. My sister, brothers, and I would devour a fresh loaf or two, and fight over the heels. Sometimes you fried dough dodgers out of the leftover dough. Thanks, Mom.

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For telling me how much you appreciated and loved my husband. And treating him well. And for telling Dad not to tease me about him when I brought him home to meet him. You were in Florida at the time, and you didn’t want to scare away that Godly man. Thanks, Mom.

For demonstrating a love of reading. You always had a pile of books by your chair. You invested in a set of encyclopedias (which I read from A to Z), and the Norton Anthology of English Literature (which started me on the journey of a life-long love of literature). For encouraging us to go to the library. Thanks, Mom

For putting on a wonderful wedding. I know you must have been exhausted by the time it was done. For preparing both the rehearsal dinner and the reception dinner, along with women from our church. For decorating the wedding cake and the church. I helped, but you used your talents and skills to direct a wonderful wedding. Thanks, Mom.

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For taking us to church and for choosing a church with sound doctrine, excellent teaching, and a good youth group. For praying for me, especially during the time when I struggled the most when I was away at college. Thanks, Mom.

For going to every parent-teacher’s conference, and every choir concert. For standing strong on the importance of education. Thanks, Mom.

For educating yourself about autism. For believing that it was a real and significant issue in our lives, because others did not. For bragging on our kids, for supporting them, for praying for them. Thanks, Mom.

For showing me that it’s never too late to start something new. At around 40, you took a painting class, and have been painting pictures, cards, for the last 40 years. Your paintings are hanging on my walls. Thanks, Mom.

For demonstrating love in action at your church in Florida, visiting the sick, preparing meals, buying gifts for orphans, singing in the choir. You once told me that you took your crocheting with you when visiting someone who was sick because it communicated that you weren’t in a hurry to leave.  Thanks, Mom.

For playing games with us when we were little. For staying home to care for us. For caring whether we succeeded in life or not. For insisting that we did our homework. For long telephone calls and encouragement as I established my own household with my husband and kids. For innumerable things that have influenced my life. Thanks, Mom.

I can never thank you enough. I love you.